In case you didn’t read last week’s “15 things,” here’s the deal. My midweek blog will pick 15 things that strike me in a given week. Why 15? This is USCHO’s 15th season. What will strike me? I dunno.
Given the interesting things we’re seeing in the early going, I will state the obvious about these 15 guys who previously have been under the radar but may not be by the end of the season. The list is alphabetical.
1. Chad Billins, FSU. Who? This junior defenseman has two goals and an assist. Both goals were power-play goals, one was a game-winner, and Billins is plus-four in this short season (highest on the team, tied with a bunch of other Bulldogs). By comparison, Billins had three goals in 40 games last season. He also has no penalties so far — a big bonus for a team looking to play much smarter this season.
2. Max Campbell, WMU. Sure, Campbell had a great sophomore season with 16 goals and 15 assists, but last year — his junior year — he had six goals in 34 games. He’s off to the kind of start that will remind people of his capabilities: two goals, one assist, four games. He had the overtime game-winner Oct. 9 against visiting Canisius to give new head coach Jeff Blashill his first career win.
3. Matt Cowie, LSSU. A senior defenseman, Cowie has two goals in four games, equaling his total in 36 games a season ago. True, Cowie is minus-five on a team that is mostly underwater, but he’s also playing for a team hungry for offense, hungry for leadership. Seniors with fast starts make statements.
4. Danny Dries, OSU. Dries is a senior who transferred from New Hampshire, where he had 21 goals in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He only has one assist now, but he can be a spark on an severely underachieving team now playing for an intense head coach.
5. Andrew Fernandez, NMU. A senior defenseman on a team that lost a lot of leadership from a year ago, Fernandez has two goals in three games, equaling his career-high two goals in 25 games two seasons ago. Both markers this season came late in the third period of a 3-2 loss to Minnesota-Duluth Oct. 9. Gutsy.
6. Andrew Hammond, BGSU. Went 0-12–2 last year in his freshman season with a 4.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage. As the saying goes, that was then. There’s a new coaching staff and an entirely new team philosophy in Bowling Green. Last weekend, Hammond posted a 3-0 shutout over Clarkson for his first career win.
7. Nate Hennig, FSU. He’s a senior forward and you’ve never heard of him. That’s okay, because he played 35 games in his first three years with uninspiring numbers (2-6–8). This season, he’s played three games and has three goals, including the game-winner in FSU’s Oct. 15 win over SLU. He had 16 goals in 54 games his last season in the NAHL. Inspired players come out of nowhere at FSU, and seniors are inspired.
8. Joe Lavin, ND. Lavin, a senior defenseman, transferred in from Providence midway through his sophomore season and was able to play the second half of the 2009-10 season. In spite of his short tenure in South Bend, Lavin was chosen unanimously by the players to captain the team this year. He has one goal, shorthanded, and one assist in four games this year.
9. Greg Pateryn, UM. It’s hard to be under the radar on a team that shows up on everyone’s GPS, but that’s what makes Pateryn such an interesting guy to watch this year. The junior defenseman is part of a solid, experienced corps of blueliners, having earned his way into the starting lineup. He has one goal in four games.
10. Brett Perlini, MSU. This junior forward caught a few eyes in last year’s Great Lakes Invitational with his MVP performance of three goals and two assists. In 20 games last season, Perlini had seven goals and five assists; he has two goals in two games so far this year.
11. Kevin Petovello, UAF. In four games so far, this senior forward has equaled his goal output from 29 games a season ago and is nearly a third of the way to his career goals total of nine. Nanooks coach Dallas Ferguson was wondering where the offense would come from this season. Petovello has the desire to do the proverbial stepping up.
12. Brock Shelgren, MSU. This junior defenseman is poised to take up some of the slack left by the departure of Jeff Petry. On a team looking for an overall identity, Shelgren has contributed a goal and an assist in two games. He had one goal in 61 games previous to this season.
13. David Solway, BGSU. A senior forward who had a solid freshman season, a very good sophomore year…and a disappointing junior year. Last year, five goals in 24 games. True, his only goal in four contests this season is an empty-netter, but he was recruited for his offensive ability once upon a time. I say he’ll flourish under the new coaching staff at BGSU.
14. Eric Spady, NMU. Spady is the other senior Wildcat defenseman on a team with a very young blue line. Like his teammate, Andrew Fernandez, Spady has the chance to step out of the shadow of NMU predecessors, and has two assists in three games.
15. Patrick Tiesling, Miami. This senior forward spent his first two years in Bowling Green, sat out last year to transfer and is already contributing to Miami this season. That alone would make him interesting, but given that he has four assists in four games, putting him third among RedHawks in scoring — well, that is interesting. Miami is littered with offensive play-makers. Someone new in the mix is too much fun not to watch.